LKMusic: A Tale of Two Working Class Entrepeneurs

LKMusic has come a hell of a long way since being forged in the creative fires of the Download Pilot 2021. It’s mad to think how Laura and I started up our rapidly-growing business in a damp, muddy field surrounded by the drunken excitement of a metal scene who had been without live music for entirely too long.

How It Started

If I could go back in time about a year, and tell the Kelza of January 2021 that she would very soon be designing graphics for bands and organising gigs, she would laugh. But there would be a wistfulness there, and a touch of anxiety – I’ve always loved music, and dreamed of having a music-adjacent career. I assumed that after pursuing fine art and then being stuck in retail, my life’s trajectory was set and it was too late.

Two things made me realise that a career change wasn’t off-limits. Firstly, joining the fanbase, and then the friendship group, of the band Reaper; and secondly, escaping retail to start working for Hackschool CIC full time. 

Laura and Kelza, the founders of LKMusic, camping at Download 2021.

A Big Attitude Change

The biggest thing for me has been… not necessarily a change in attitude, but being able to work in a place that actually suits and encourages it. I’m not the kind off person who can happily do nothing – more power to the people who can, and I do try and make space for rest, but I thrive when I have a project to give me some direction.

Working retail doesn’t involve projects. You stock the shelves, they get emptied. You tidy things, customers mess them up. The gratification is fleeting. There’s no room for creativity whatsoever; for trying new things, and for being able to fail at them and try again.

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

Samuel Beckett

In my year or so at Hackschool, and indeed my six or so months of working at LKMusic, I’ve tried and failed and tried again at a whole bunch of things.

The fear of failure is at the root of many things. The fear of change, of rejection, of taking risks. Being able to experience failure like this,  you learn that failure isn’t terrifying. It isn’t ‘the end’. It’s a vital part of development.

 

Being in a work environment where I can try things out, treat it all like like a science experiment, and learn from the failures has been refreshing. It’s emboldened me to apply the same approach to other areas of my life – including my side hustles.

The Necessary Skills

In addition to the opportunity to fail better, I’ve picked up some skills that have translated perfectly into my work with LKMusic. Our first podcast, The Armchair Sessions, would never have happened without the audio/video tech skills I picked up at Hackschool. In fact, it was seeing the video work that I did at Hackschool that inspired Laura to approach me to start LKMusic.

And now Hackschool has a growing team of creatives, I’ve had the chance to try on a new set of skills in project management. I’m still working on the fine balance of empathy and butt-kicking that you need to lead effectively, but it’s all been useful experience.

My hope is that what I learn will help me to even better manage myself and the people who work around me as LKMusic expands – and it’s expanding quickly!

the hackschool team with vicky moran from carmel college

Access to Tech

Laura and I are both working class kids – though at nearly 30, I’m not exactly a kid any more! One of the big barriers that people like us face when we want to start up in a field involving tech is the cost of access to quality technology. There are cheap options, especially in terms of audio and video – smartphones, for example, are becoming more powerful and more affordable – but sometimes a person’s budget is so limited that even the cheapest tech isn’t accessible.

Being able to use the HackTV studio has been a godsend. LKMusic started up from an idea with no money behind it, so we’ve appreciated the chance to make professional video on our nonexistent budget. It hasn’t been without its technical difficulties, but it’s all been part of the learning experience.

Gaining Momentum

In the last few months, our business has been skyrocketing. With Covid seemingly becoming less threatening, venues are opening again and increasing the demand for gigs. We may have temporarily parked The Armchair Sessions, but we have at least one gig a month arranged until June 2022.

A Liverpool-based punk rock band called Honeytalks performing on stage at The Zanzibar Club for LKMusic's first ever gig.
(c) Sarah Sidwell

We had our first gig only a few days ago – on the 31st January 2022, at the Zanzibar Club in Liverpool. It went unbelievably well – between merchandise and ticket sales, we made money for the first ever time! We’ve proven that with a bit of determination, a DIY attitude, and seeing failure as an opportunity, you can do awesome things.

We have more gigs lined up, and we hope that we can eventually make enough money (whilst paying bands fairly) to become fully independent. The dream is to have our own studio one day, where we can do what we do without having to worry about being too broke for it. I think there’ll be a little bit of the Hackschool spirit in it, as well.

The Last Note...

You can find all of LKMusic’s social links on their linktree

For a little glimpse of our work at Hackschool, check out LKMusic at HackTV: In Pictures!